Expecting the Unexpected – Tips and Tricks to Survive your Unannounced Audit

Expecting the Unexpected – Tips and Tricks to Survive your Unannounced Audit

And then it was May…

 

It certainly has been a busy year and, as if there isn’t already enough going on, the roll-out of unannounced food safety audits is in full swing.

 

Earlier this week ProCert Southern Africa hosted a FREE Webinar themed “What to Expect from your Unannounced Audit”.  This being the first of a series of “Lunch Hour Sessions”, it was encouraging to see so many participants signed up.  I suppose this is also an indication of the level of insecurity that most of us experience when it comes to unannounced audits.

 

If you were unable to join our session this week, this is your lucky day because here at Progress Excellence we’ve decided to continue with the unannounced audit theme in our Food Bites Blog this month.

 

The concept of unannounced audits is not a new one – for the most part, these audits have been customer-driven or totally voluntary on the part of the certified site.  When GFSI published an updated version of their benchmarking requirements in February 2020, things changed more than just a little.  For the first time, unannounced audits were integrated into the benchmarking requirements and *Standard Owners were compelled to incorporate at least one unannounced audit into every 3-year audit cycle.

 

The unannounced audit does come with a few rules and protocols for planning and scheduling these audits.  In a nutshell, this is what the roll-out and rules look like:

 

STANDARD ROLL-OUT REGISTRATION DEADLINE AUDIT TIME WINDOW BLACK-OUT DAYS
FSSC 22000 At least one audit must be unannounced by the end of 2022 and then once every three years during a surveillance audit. Up to 3 months before the start of the audit time window. between 8-12 months after last audit day or from date of certification upgrade (2019 only) 15 days, distributed over 3 – 5 periods
BRCGS Every third audit must be an unannounced audit from 2022 Between 8-12 months after the last audit day (=initial audit). 15 days
IFS Every third assessment must be an unannounced assessment from 2021 Between 8-12 months and 2 weeks after the last audit day (=initial audit) 10 days distributed over a maximum of 3 periods

This table is an extract from ProCert’s Collaboration Guide.

 

Based on the current timelines, and depending on which standard you are certified to, you will certainly have an unannounced audit before the end of 2024.

 

If this information has rattled your nerves, here are some helpful hints and tips to help you prepare for your unannounced audit:

 

  1. KNOW YOUR STANDARD: Never underestimate the value of proper training on the standard (s) to which you are certified. Having a core team of people who understand the requirements as opposed to a single Quality Manager or Food Safety Team Leader who is the only one knows anything, can take a lot of pressure off individuals.

 

  1. TRAINING: Make sure that staff are trained and competent to perform their daily activities. This could include anything from raw material receiving inspections to CCP monitoring –proper, on-the-job training will mean that you never have to worry whether they will “get it right” during the audit.

 

  1. INSTILL AN AUDIT-READY CULTURE: If your system truly is a way of life, you will never need to worry when the auditor arrives unannounced. Use your current internal audit system to involve everyone in audits and make them comfortable talking to an auditor.

 

  1. DON’T HIDE YOUR SYSTEM DOCUMENTATION: More often than not there is only one person who really knows where the system documents are stored (whether in hard or digital copy). This can be extremely stressful especially if this individual is not at work or available on the day of the audit.  Take some time to train more people on where to access information and where it is stored.

 

For more information on “What to Expect from your Unannounced Audit”, why not register to attend a re-run of this Webinar on 25 May 2022Click here to register now.

 

Of course, you can also count on Progress Excellence to Wow! you with all kinds of training.  Take a look at our upcoming workshops or contact us at info@progress-excellence.co.za for any on-site training enquiries you have.

 

30-31 May 2022
Introduction to Internal Auditing of Food Safety Management Systems: BRCGS Food, FSSC/ISO 22000, IFS Food and HACCP (based on ISO 19011:2018)
Paarl & Zoom
1 June 2002
Food Defence (VACCP and TACCP) Workshop
JHB & Zoom
2 June 2022
Food safety culture excellence workshop
JHB & Zoom
6–9 June 2022
Understanding and Implementing Food Safety Management Systems: FSSC 22000 Version 5.1
Paarl & Zoom
13 June 2022
Validation, monitoring and verification of food safety management systems
Paarl & Zoom
13-14 June 2022
Introduction to Internal Auditing of Food Safety Management Systems: BRCGS Food, FSSC/ISO 22000, IFS Food and HACCP (based on ISO 19011:2018)
JHB & Zoom
20-23 June 2022
Understanding and Implementing Food Safety Management Systems: FSSC 22000 Version 5.1
JHB & Zoom
20 June 2022
Food Defence (VACCP and TACCP) Workshop
Paarl & Zoom
21 June 2022
Food safety culture excellence workshop
Paarl & Zoom
27-29 June 2022
IFS Food Implementation workshop (version 7)
Paarl & Zoom
1-3 August 2022
BRCGS Food Implementation Workshop (Issue 9)
Paarl & Zoom
10-11 August 2022
HACCP implementation workshop (Based on Codex Alimentarius for SANS 10330, BRCGS Food and IFS)
Paarl & Zoom
15-16 August 2022
Advanced Internal Auditing of Food Safety Management Systems: BRCGS Food, FSSC/ISO 22000, IFS Food and HACCP (Based on ISO 19011:2018)
Paarl & Zoom
22-23 August 2022
Introduction to Internal Auditing of Food Safety Management Systems: BRCGS Food, FSSC/ISO 22000, IFS Food and HACCP (based on ISO 19011:2018)
Paarl & Zoom
22-23 August 2022
Understanding & Implementing of Laboratory Management Systems: ISO 17025:2017 (excluding statistical method validation)
Paarl & Zoom
24-25 August 2022
Method Validation & Measurement Uncertainty for Microbiology & Analytical Testing Laboratories
Paarl & Zoom
23-25 August 2022
Understanding & Implementing Health & Safety Management Systems: ISO 45001:2018
Paarl & Zoom
29 August 2022
Validation, monitoring and verification of food safety management systems
Paarl & Zoom
29-30 August 2022
Introduction to Internal Auditing of Food Safety Management Systems: BRCGS Food, FSSC/ISO 22000, IFS Food and HACCP (based on ISO 19011:2018)
JHB & Zoom
29 August – 1 September 2022
Understanding and Implementing Food Safety Management Systems: FSSC 22000 Version 5.1
Paarl & Zoom

 

*For the purpose of this Blog and the current food safety system certifications delivered in Southern Africa, we have focused on the following standards: BRCGS Food, IFS Food and FSSC 22000.